When it comes to the Raiders, I am a glass is half empty kind of guy!
Down 22-0 against the Tigers, the Raiders were in a race against the clock to see who got to 80 first, the Tigers or the time keeper. Obviously the time keeper won in a canter and after 80 minutes, every Tigers fan I know (one) got a text from me saying “Go Raiders!” Nothing more needed to be said.
In season 2015, the Raiders have won just three games but a case could be made (albeit tenuous) that the Raiders should be closer to the top of the table with wins against the Dragons and Storm. It’s not as unbelievable as you think. So far the Raiders have only been soundly beaten by the Roosters with their other loss coming against the unpredictable Warriors.
What the Raiders have shown is an ability to hang tough in tight games and not throw the towel in, like they have in previous seasons. John Wayne would have been proud of yesterdays effort. “I will go further and say all cats are wicked, though often useful”. A profound quote from True Grit that Ricky Stuart must have thought about at some stage yesterday.
The Raiders may not make the top eight this year but at least they will go down swinging and hopefully take a few sides with them, just as they did at the back end of last season. the True grit was in abundance yesterday and although controversy surrounded the match, the Raiders finished by far the better team. I can handle a loss if my team goes down swinging and the emotion was there for all to see as Jarrod Croker exercised a few Tigers related demons and Sam Williams could not hide his delight after the match. I love this kind of raw emotion, especially from juniors who know only too well that barren is an adjective most aptly suited to the Raiders fortunes since the retirement of Laurie Daley in 2000.
Now to the controversial topic of Shaun Fensom. He did not play yesterday and the Raiders won the match and the penalty count. He was also out injured at the back end of last year when Jarrod Croker assumed the captaincy and the Raiders won their final three games. I know Fensom is revered by my fellow Raiders fans as a work horse who tackles himself to a stand still every match and plays with a heart akin to Phar Lap. That may be true but he is a player who lacks ball security and is extremely undisciplined and based on yesterdays remarkable victory, I cannot find a place for Fensom in my top seventeen.
Stuart has shown he is not afraid to wield the axe but I also believe he should stick with the seventeen (minus Tilse) who achieved an impossible victory yesterday. This is nothing personal against Fensom, but I have always believed he is undisciplined and highly overrated by Raiders fans.
Bring on the howls of blindly loyal fans I say. The stats do not lie.
I hope Aidan Sezer was watching yesterday and got a glimpse of what he can help the Raiders achieve in 2016 and beyond.
Ps, I hope this had a sting in the tail for James Tedesco. Funny how the wheel turns sometimes…
Baby sister, I was born game, and I mean to go out that way.